This page will explain how you can improve the battery life of your Android device. It is the most important thing, after what we’re actually doing with it. Although it would be nice if we did not have to think about power-savings at all, the reality is that there are a number of things that we can do to extend the battery life. Here are the steps, completely under your control, to achieve a longer battery life with Android.
1/ It starts with awareness
Power Control Widget: Android comes with a Power Control widget (home>add to home>widget>power control) that sits right on your homepage. It has an array of controls that you can turn on and off with a tap. It’s great to have them right in front of your eyes, because they will tell you what the current status is (green=on, black=off). Your GPS might be on (it’s one of the worst power-offenders with the display), Bluetooth might be on… if you can’t see it, you won’t fix it.
Keep it in front of your eyes: Let’s admit it: we’re all a little lazy and most people won’t dive down into a few menus to turn things on and off. We are much more likely to do so if this is quick and effortless.
Find the culprit: by default, Android comes with a good battery utility (settings>about>battery) that tells you where the power is going to. If you want something with more details, check out SystemPanel, a battery utility that is more advanced. If you are ready to pay for something even more advanced, there’s Extended Controls. We have not tried it, but it’s worth taking a look.
2/ Disable hardware that you don’t need
Now that you know what’s on and off, you can turn WiFi off when not at home, or Bluetooth off when you don’t need to use a hands-free device. If you’re in a dimly lit room, you can also turn the brightness down to save big on power (your eyes might thank you too).
Note: that you should turn WiFi OFF, only if WiFi is not available. WiFi is (almost) always a better option than the 2G/3G/4G/wireless networks in terms of overall power usage, simply because it’s faster so the device gets the job done and returns to a “rest” state faster.
3/ Disable the software that you don’t need
Sync: Maybe you don’t even need to synchronize with your emails and Facebook accounts for the next few hours/days/week-end, so turn that off and save more battery. Unfortunately, you have to switch the Sync Accounts for *all* the services at once. Keep that in mind.
Widgets: if you have widgets, they could be loading data, or use the processor in some other ways. If you don’t need them, remove them from the home screen.
Real-time services: getting near-real-time information with social networks and other services is a great thing. However, not all of them are smart about using notifications. Apps that pull data every “x” minutes can hit the battery pretty hard.
Animated backgrounds: they are so pretty! But they don’t help your productivity… or your battery. I’m not sure how much they consume, but they can’t help.
4/ Don’t let background apps suck the life battery out of your Android phone
Background apps: Android is a great operating system that offers “true” multitasking (unlike iOS 4x). That can be very handy, but if you don’t pay attention, background apps could quickly become a memory and power hog (depending on the apps!). Although the system will do its best to keep power usage low, there’s nothing like actually shutting down all the apps that you don’t use. Maps and other geo-location aware apps can also turn the GPS on, and use even more power.
Fortunately, it’s very easy to find a “Task Killer” application that will not only eliminate background apps with a single-click, some will even do so at regular intervals. We’ve tried “Advanced Task Killer Free”, but there are plenty of choices.
Controversy on Android 2.2+: Killing Apps is a controversial topic since Android 2.2 came out. In theory, Android 2.2 should do a very good job of not letting background apps consume too many resources. Killing and loading apps does use resources too. However, you should always be wary that some apps would ask for the GPS or other hardware blocks to be ON, or simply do needless things in the background (the OS doesn’t prevent apps from being dumb). They might also sync with a remote server at regular intervals to fetch data. here are the cons of killing apps, and how apps should handle being in the background (for devs). SystemPanel mentioned earlier can help you find the power hogs.
5/ Do you really need 4G, 3G, 2D/Edge or any data at all?
If you’re not in a hurry to look at emails or use the web, you could even shut down data services. If you do need data, you can downgrade to the previous-generation network that tends to use less power (because the older coverage tends to be better, the radio doesn’t have to send a signal as far).
On a stock Android phone, we simply disable 4G and WiFi. That’s two only taps. If you want to get fancier, you could find an app like APNDroid, a utility that uses a trick to prevent any data connection from happening. It’s probably a bit more “high maintenance” than most people would like it to be, but now you know.
There you go. You are now firmly in control of how much electricity your Android phone is using, and believe me, if you need to get more from your battery, this is the way to go. There might be ways to save even more juice, but plain awareness and the control panel should get you quite far while keeping things casual.
Enjoy your Android smartphone!